Formlabs, the company that took SLA (stereolithography) 3D printing mainstream with the Form 1 in 2012, is showcasing two new machines at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference in Chicago and at Hannover Messe in Germany: the Form 3 and the Form 3L. Both are powered by a new process called Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) which employs a flexible film tank that decreases peel force and increases precision.
Equipped with a 250W 405nm high-power-density laser, the modular LPU (Light Processing Unit) uses a parabolic mirror and spatial filter that ensure perfect linearity of the laser. Thanks to those upgrades, the new printers boast an improved laser spot size of 85 microns, down from the already impressive 140 microns of the Form 2. Other new features include sensors and systems that detect materials and their levelness, the location of the build platform, dust, and power fluctuations. The build chamber temperature is also controlled, which improves consistency and reliability.
The Form 3 engineers wanted to empower users so they made the LPU, resin tank, rollers, and optics window user-replaceable, meaning the printers won’t need to be shipped to be serviced. As a 3D printer intended for industrial use where downtime is especially costly, that’s an important consideration. Formlabs now has over 20 materials available, ranging from rigid to flexible and optically clear to chemically resistant, and their resin cartridge system means users never have to be exposed to the resin.
Go Big Without Breaking the Bank
The main difference between the Form 3 and Form 3L is build volume. The 3 can build objects as large as 5.7 x 5.7 x 7.3 inches while the 3L can go five times bigger with a build volume of 13.2 x 7.9 x 11.8 inches, having two lasers to accommodate the extra space. They both have a laser resolution of 25 microns and a minimum layer height of 25 microns. The Form 3 will start at $3,499 and the Form 3L at $9,999, both great prices for the build quality and included features.
Formlabs co-founder and CEO Max Lobovsky said in a press release: “We entered the industry seven years ago with the first powerful, affordable desktop SLA 3D printer and since then have shipped more than 50 thousand printers, and our customers have printed more than 40 million parts. We’re excited to take another huge leap forward with LFS 3D printing, dramatically improving the print quality and reliability people can expect while still offering the most powerful and affordable 3D printer on the market.”